In general, we encourage students to concentrate less on building a resume and creating a profile and more on digging deep into things that interest and intrigue them. Sometimes this means adjusting an academic schedule to allow sufficient time for activities that truly matter. Sometimes it means cutting back on activities to focus on academic pursuits. Sometimes it means making time to attend to health or family issues. Whatever the choices, we hope the focus remains on maintaining a healthy balance. Eager, engaged, happy, and curious students are the most likely to inject personal and intellectual energy into their applications, and are more likely to continue to explore their passions and potential at the college they go to. – Recent Stanford email
I frequently get questions from students and parents about activities. For example, “Do I have enough activities? What can I do now? How many activities should I have? What will look good on my application? Should I do something related to my major?” There are a myriad of other questions related to activities, awards, and extra-curricular activities.
As the email above from Stanford states, it is never about quantity but about quality. In my mind, however, it is actually about the reflective nature of what you did during your activity. The reality is, if you have not done much during your high school years, anything you add now (Grade 11) will look like you are doing something to impress rather than doing an activity out of genuine interest.
As you enter the summer, you will hopefully have lots of things to do. But doing them for the sake of doing them is not really the best plan. Think about how you can best magnify your experience. Consider why you are doing that summer program. Ask yourself, what is this book teaching me? How can I learn the most out of this summer program/internship/job/summer camp? What was I like before I started this summer adventure and what am I like now (at the end)? What has changed? Who inspired me? Do I have a new outlook? These are some of the questions you should consider as you start and go through whatever it is you are doing this summer.
I want to focus on the important phrase in this email, “the focus remains on maintaining a healthy balance.” Wow, what a concept! Schoolwork should always come first, but it is not the only thing in your life. Family, for example is terribly important and often overlooked. Keeping focused on what you like to do and as stated, be engaged in life. School is not all about sitting in a classroom; it’s also about building solid relationships, finding mentors, developing healthy friendships, and continuing to handle the varieties of life.
It is important, however, that you maintain balance in your life. If you are procrastinating on doing your essays, working on your resume, learning vocabulary for SAT or TOEFL, then create a plan that you will follow. Prioritize, focus, and get the work done. As a rising senior or potential boarding school applicant, manage your time well. Summer is not only about having fun but also about planning for your future, whatever that may be.
“If you don´t go, you don´t arrive. If you don’t start, you don´t finish. If you don´t dream, you don´t create. If you don´t observe, you don´t see. If you don´t teach, you don´t learn. If you don´t feel, you don´t live.”
Hamilton Gregg is the founder of International Educational Consulting and has worked in education since 1985. He helps students and their families understand their personal and educational needs and find the right school to meet their requirements. If you are a student or parent who would like to ask Gregg a question on our blog, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo courtesy of Pink Sherbet Photography (Flickr)